Garden · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: spidery shadows

A spider plant casts its shadows in the conservatory at Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders.

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Flower · Garden · Gardening · Nature · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: honeysuckle

Several months ago this honeysuckle bloomed in what seemed to me rather a half-hearted manner. Throughout the summer it plodded along without doing very much, but a few days ago it burst into flower again, this time far more emphatically.

honeysuckle
Honeysuckle in its second, and more impressive, blooming of the year.
Fife · Photography · Scotland · Travel

Sunday trio: sand writing

I forgot to post my usual Friday photo last week so I’m posting a Sunday trio instead. I was out on Friday taking my octogenarian parents to the seaside. As we walked on the beach at St Andrews, my mum saw a roundish stone and said to me: ‘Is that a turnip?’ It amused me and I relayed the conversation to my dad, who hadn’t heard what she’d said. A few minutes later, he bent down to write in the sand.

East Sands St Andrews
Two octogenarians on the beach at St Andrews.
writing in the sand at East Sands
Writing in the sand.
Turnip on the beach
An unexpected message.
Book review · Gardening · Non-fiction

Book review: ‘How to be a gardener’ by Alan Titchmarsh

I found this book for 99p in a second-hand shop and thought it might make a useful reference volume. When I got it home and looked at it more closely I decided I should read it right through from cover to cover.

How to be a gardener
‘How to be a gardener (book one)’ by Alan Titchmarsh (2002)

The book was brought out to accompany a television series of the same name sixteen years ago. I don’t remember seeing any of the programme, but in those days I wasn’t particularly interested in gardening.

This is the first in what I think is a two volume set, and it deals with the basics of gardening. In the first couple of chapters Alan explains what plants are and how they grow. This bit of the book took me back to school biology lessons and I was pleasantly surprised when things I’d forgotten I knew began coming back to me.

In the following chapters the book describes how to plan borders, design flower beds and deal with weeds. Going through each of the four seasons, it explains what needs to be done in a garden at certain times of year, and suggests ways to keep the garden interesting all year round.

Routine, and more specific, garden maintenance is gone into in some detail, including a whole chapter on how to look after lawns, and there’s quite a bit of information about how to garden organically.

I read this book over a number of days during my breakfast and each morning I learned something new and helpful. I hadn’t expected it to be such an easy and enjoyable read, and I’ll be keeping my eye out for the second book in the series when rummaging through second-hand bookshops.

Flower · Garden · Gardening · Nature · Perthshire · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: sunflower

This lone sunflower fortuitously sprang up unexpectedly in the garden. For several weeks I’ve been watching with interest, waiting to see what it would look like when it flowered. A couple of days ago its petals unfurled and it’s been attracting bees ever since. I’m looking forward to collecting the seeds and planting more next year.

sunflower
An unexpected, and most welcome, sunflower in the garden.
Nature · Perthshire · Photography · Scotland · Weather

Friday photo: cow forecast

Apparently, more than 60% of Brits believe that cows lying down indicates rain on the way. According to the Meteorological Office, the position of cattle in a field has nothing to do with weather conditions and probably means they’re just tired and needing a rest. I took this photograph yesterday morning when the sky began to look quite threatening. It did rain, but not until about six hours later. Make of that what you will.

cow forecast
Forecasting the weather, or just having a rest? Cows lying down near Blairgowrie, Perthshire.
Fife · Flower · Garden · Nature · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: musk mallow

Yesterday, while wandering around the magnificent walled garden at Cambo Estate near St Andrews in Fife, I came upon a drift of beautiful pale pink musk mallows (Malva moschata). I bought a packet of musk mallow seeds earlier this year and am looking forward to growing them in the spring. Mine are white with just a touch of pink in the middle, but I wouldn’t mind some of these lovely pale pink ones as well.

musk mallow
Pale pink musk mallows at Cambo Estate, near St Andrews, Fife.